For Sylvie and many other immigrants fleeing homophobia in their home countries, this weekend’s San Diego LGBT Pride marks a time to celebrate their sexuality without fear of imprisonment or even worse. Many asylum-seekers come to the U.S. because they may be jailed or killed in their native country for loving a person of the same sex, but there is no government record of how many cases are approved on these specific grounds.
Sylvie, raised Catholic, said at first she dated men and had a boyfriend in school who got her pregnant. She raised his two kids on her own, turning to prostitution to support herself until she was able to return to school. According to court documents, she found female clients paid more money and realized she preferred women as sexual partners. She fell in love with a woman, and did not worry about the relationship’s consequences until a Jehovah’s Witness came to her home.
“They were talking to people that it’s not good, this is not a good thing, if you do that they will kill you,” she said.